Earth Day considerations

Combating climate change through conservation, recovery, and design

In recent years, detangling celebrations for Earth Day from the growing climate crisis has become near impossible. As our planet warms, the need to make significant changes only becomes more dire.

This year, to mark Earth Day, we are highlighting books from the Press that discuss methods to combat climate change: from the conventional to the outlandish. After all, saving our planet may take efforts beyond the status quo. Read on to explore the books in our collection, and sign up for our newsletter to hear more updates from the Press.

Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think about Animals by Christopher J. Preston

The news about wildlife is dire—more than 900 species have been wiped off the planet since industrialization. Against this bleak backdrop, however, there are also glimmers of hope and crucial lessons to be learned from animals that have defied global trends toward extinction: bears in Italy, bison in North America, whales in the Atlantic. These populations are back from the brink, some of them in numbers unimaginable in a century. How has this happened? What shifts in thinking did it demand? In crisp, transporting prose, Christopher Preston reveals the mysteries and challenges at the heart of these resurgences.

“In the midst of ecological crisis, Preston brings genuinely good news: a few of our fellow species are not only thriving, but demanding that we do better by the rest of life on Earth.” —Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts

Cooperating for the Climate: Learning from International Partnerships in China’s Clean Energy Sector by Joanna I. Lewis

No country in the world releases more greenhouse gases than China. And no country has a greater capacity—and ambition—to mitigate climate change. This deeply informed, urgently needed book examines the global cooperation that such a monumental effort demands and inspires, necessarily focusing on China’s outsize role in the development and dissemination of clean energy technologies. Drawing on decades of work in clean energy and climate technology and policy, Joanna Lewis provides a clear and thorough account of the motivations, science, and politics behind international clean energy technology collaboration—and an in-depth look at why different clean energy partnerships result in different political and technological outcomes.

“Lewis persuasively lays out the case for why US–China cooperation is not only possible, but absolutely necessary, presenting myriad examples of how clean energy and climate partnerships worked and how they can work again.” —Jerry Brown, former Governor of California

Women and Climate Change: Examining Discourses from the Global North by Nicole Detraz

When you think “climate change,” who comes to mind? Who’s doing the science, the reporting, the protesting, the suffering? In Women and Climate Change, Nicole Detraz asks where women in the global North figure in the picture, what that means, and why it matters. Her answers fill critical gaps in what we know about the politics of climate change and gender. Detraz offers the suggestion, and the hope, that identifying connections between ideas of gender and climate change might also alter our vision of a livable future.

“Detraz revolutionizes our understanding of the gendered politics of climate change discourses. Along the way, with inspiring creativity, she offers novel insights into how to advance justice and sustainability.” —Peter Dauvergne, University of British Columbia

Worlds Without End: Exoplanets, Habitability, and the Future of Humanity by Chris Impey

Planet Earth, it turns out, may not be the best of all possible worlds—and lately humanity has been carelessly depleting resources, decimating species, and degrading everything needed for life. Meanwhile, human ingenuity has opened up a vista of habitable worlds well beyond our wildest dreams of outposts on Mars. Worlds without End is an expertly guided tour of this thrilling frontier in astronomy: the search for planets with the potential to host life. The existential threats that we face here on Earth lend urgency to this search, raising the question: Could space be our salvation?

“Impey plots an intriguing path from Earth to our future in space. Combining scientific inquiries with personal stories, Worlds without End is a fascinating conversation starter.” —Lisa Kaltenegger, Cornell University

Design for a Better World: Meaningful, Sustainable, Humanity Centered by Don Norman 

The world is a mess. Our dire predicament, from collapsing social structures to the climate crisis, has been millennia in the making and can be traced back to the erroneous belief that the earth’s resources are infinite. The key to change, says Don Norman, is human behavior, covered in the book’s three major themes: meaning, sustainability, and humanity-centeredness. Emphasize quality of life, not monetary rewards; restructure how we live to better protect the environment; and focus on all of humanity. Design for a Better World presents an eye-opening diagnosis of where we’ve gone wrong and a clear prescription for making things better.

“Norman’s book shifts focus from the human to humanity, cracking the code on what values ought to be at the center when driving sustainable design.” —Payal Arora, Erasmus University; author of The Next Billion Users

Beyond Climate Breakdown: Envisioning New Stories of Radical Hope by Peter Friederici

“How dare you?” asked teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg at the United Nations in 2019. How dare the world’s leaders fiddle around the edges when the world is on fire? Why is society unable to grasp the enormity of climate change? In Beyond Climate Breakdown, Peter Friederici writes that the answer must come in the form of a story, and that our miscomprehension of the climate crisis comes about because we have been telling the wrong stories. These stories are pervasive; they come from long narrative traditions, sanctioned by capitalism, Hollywood, and social media, and they revolve around a myth: that the nation exists primarily as a setting for a certain kind of economic activity.

“An insightful critique of the literary, political, and economic narratives that hide global warming from view.” —Genevieve Guenther, Founding Director, End Climate Silence

Parenting on Earth: A Philosopher’s Guide to Doing Right by Your Kids—and Everyone Else by Elizabeth Cripps

Environmental catastrophes, pandemics, antibiotic resistance, institutionalized injustice, and war: in a world so out of balance, what does it take—or even mean—to be a good parent? This book is one woman’s search for an answer, as a moral philosopher, activist, and mother. Timely and thoughtful, Parenting on Earth extends a challenge to anyone raising children in a troubled world—and with it, a vision of hope for our children’s future. Cripps envisions a world where kids can prosper and grow—a just world, with thriving social systems and ecosystems, where future generations can flourish and all children can lead a decent life. She explains, with bracing clarity, why those raising kids today should be a force for change and bring up their children to do the same. Hard as this can be, in the face of political gridlock, ecoanxiety, and general daily grind, the tools of philosophy and psychology can help us find a way.

“Rousing, rational, and deeply hopeful, this book helped me feel strong enough to face the future—to fight for my children, and for the world.” —Kirsty Sedgman, author of On Being Unreasonable

Forthcoming: The Phoenix Complex: A Philosophy of Nature by Michael Marder

Global crises, from melting Arctic ice to ecosystem collapse and the sixth mass extinction, challenge our age-old belief in nature as a phoenix with an infinite ability to regenerate itself from the ashes of destruction. Moving from antiquity to the present and back, Michael Marder provides an integrated examination of philosophies of nature drawn from traditions around the world to illuminate the theological, mythical, and philosophical origins of the contemporary environmental emergency. From there, he probes the contradictions and deadlocks of our current predicament to propose a philosophy of nature for the twenty-first century.

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